Observing the world around us

It’s night time, the sun has gone to rest and a small sliver of the moon has shown its face. I am sure there is a name for that kind of moon but we’re going to just call it ‘cute sideways smile moon’. To get from the house where we gather to my tent is not too far, but with the right attitude and general mood it can feel like the forty-year trek through the Sinai. The other day was one of those days. The light of my head torch was just that little bit too dim to ride my bike down a hill in the dark comfortably but with the mood I was in, walking was not going to be an option. So the threat of falling or riding into a tree was going to be my reality. Not going to lie, it is a bit exciting in the cold and rain riding down a poorly lit road, but that night for some reason I had convinced myself I was going to run into a bear. Why? Because my colleagues showed me an article about bear attacks in Connecticut before I got here and it’s that kind of care and compassion I miss the most while on my journeys. Once I get to the main site I then go down a dirt road (again poorly lit with a failing head torch) to the entrance to the tent village, riding every pothole and bump along the way. Once I park the bike I begin the hike through the trees and bush to get to the actual tent. There are ups and downs and under and overs all that make the walk home all that more enjoyable.

This night in particular I had drunk a whole bottle of water about 30 minutes before bedtime. I have definitely made smarter decisions in my life but really can’t remember any of them now. So halfway through the hike I had to stop and deal with that poor life-choice on a tree nearby, maybe a cousin of my old friend from blogs gone by. Going about my business, I start to look at my surroundings. Maybe I could find some beauty around me or maybe run my face through a spiders newly spun home, but what I actually saw on this head turn…oh my days!

There in the pitch black the dim light from my head torch lit up six red dots about ten metres away, clearly pointed in my direction. EYES! SIX EYES! I couldn’t see a body shape, just the eyes. What sort of animal has six eyes? Evolution has gone crazy, a six-eyed bear! I pretty quickly figured out it was more likely three pairs of eyes belonging to three separate smaller animals. It honestly felt like they were staring at me, not moving an inch, just staring. I moved to the left and they followed,  I moved to the right and the red dots followed like a sniper locking in its prey. Are they there every night? Why is this night different from all other nights? If I hadn’t stopped and looked around I could have gone to sleep not knowing that there were three animals right next to my tent, so instead of sleeping in peace I had to deal with the fact that I knew there was something out there and just wait for them to come and eat me.

This got me thinking: what other things in my life I haven’t noticed? If there are other things just around the corner, but I just don’t know. It may be people in my life, experiences I’ve ignored, ideas I haven’t grappled with or mistakes I have made. I can’t release my brain from the thought of what is lurking in the dark and if I just looked up I would see.  I go to sleep every night in my tent not being able to see what is out there but it doesn’t mean that there is nothing. Would I rather not know what is out there from fear of facing that reality? Or would I rather enjoy my ignorance for the preservation of convenience. These are some tough questions and I am still unsure of the answers. I think I want to know what animals are hiding out there, but I also think I want to just get in my sleeping bag and pretend they’re not there.

I want to spend this period of teshuvah (repentance between Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur) grappling with these questions. What I don’t know and how I can begin to become more aware of the hidden gems and challenges creeping just beyond the reach of the natural light.

So I picked up the biggest stick I could find ready for the fight of my life against this 6 eyed bear, or those 3 foxes and started to move towards the red dots. Closer and closer my grip on the stick intensified and I started to make out the body shapes, shapes plural, I could rule out 6 eyed bear. Closer and closer 3 small creatures with terrifying red eyes, fluffy with big long ears, big buck teeth and…Rabbits, literally 3 little rabbits. I’m going to bed!

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